Sarah Lotz's unsettling horror novel, The Three, gave us some serious goosebumps. Three children are the sole survivors after four commercial airlines simultaneously drop from the sky. No one can find the cause of the plane crashes, and as the children's behavior becomes increasingly bizarre, an apocalyptic cult forms around the mystery of the three survivors. Our reviewer says, "The Three is the real deal: gripping, unpredictable and utterly satisfying." (Read the full review here.)
We were curious about the books Lotz has enjoyed reading lately, so we asked her to recommend three recent favorites, which she graciously agreed to share.
By Nnedi Okorafor
I read this is one greedy session. Lagoon has a terrific premise: What if the world’s first contact with aliens happened in Lagos, rather than, say, London, Tokyo or New York? But the novel is far more than this, as the alien invasion motif is effectively used as a mirror through which the city is reflected. Corruption, greed, manipulation and gender violence are all under the spotlight here, as various factions scramble to seize control of Ayodele, the alien ambassador who has risen from the sea. It’s focalised via multiple perspectives – the main protagonists include a marine biologist reeling from spousal abuse, a Ghanaian rapper and a soldier scarred by a failed attempt to prevent a sexual assault (incidentally, not all of the POVs are human. . .). These disparate viewpoints complement each other without jarring the reader. The prose is tight, the dialogue sharp and there’s a satirical streak weaving through it (Nnedi brilliantly lampoons governmental corruption and inertia, for example). A cracking and often surprising story, terrific social commentary and great fun to read.
By Lauren Beukes
Lauren read out the opening chapter of this wholly original speculative thriller at the Open Book literary festival in Cape Town last year, and I’ve never seen a crowd so entranced. The book is too rich and complex to sum up in a few words, so I’m lazily going to crib from the blurb: ‘Detective Gabriella Versado has seen a lot of bodies. But this one is unique even by Detroit’s standards: half boy, half deer, somehow fused together. As stranger and more disturbing bodies are discovered, how can the city hold on to a reality that is already tearing at its seams?’ Bambi, this isn’t. It’s a gut-puncher of a novel, with some of the most evocative turns of phrase I’ve ever read, and thanks to her superb flair with characterisation and realism, there are several characters I still can’t get out of my head (and I read this months ago). (Publishing on September 16, 2014)
By Sarah Pinborough
I read and loved Mayhem last year, the first in this murder-mystery-but-so-much-more series set in a Victorian London that has a unique – and chilling – supernatural twist. In the first novel, police surgeon Dr. Thomas Bond was really put through the mill as a murderer savaged his way through London in the shadow of the Ripper (it’s based on the real-life "Torso Murders," but I’m forced to be vague here as I really urge you to read it). In Murder, Dr. Bond is back, and he’s forced to confront the fact that the events that took place in Mayhem might still be casting a pall over his life – and face the possibility that he could be losing his mind. The plot is full of ‘oh no she didn’t’ twists, and the atmosphere and sense of place is so compellingly executed, you’ll taste the fog and smell the foul breath of the river (and you’ll never look at the Thames the same way again). But what really got me was the extraordinary love triangle that runs through the novel. It’s devastating (in the best way). If you haven’t already, check out Sarah’s novella, The Language of Dying which is almost unbearably beautiful and powerful.
What do you think, readers? Will you be reading The Three or checking out any of Lotz's recommended books?
(Author photo by Christine Fourie)